New York City, New York
James Evans entered his room and he stared at the white walls. Everything was white and bland. He sat down on his bed. It was a twin sized bed. Mattress had been used and abused so James knew his level of comfort would be low. He reminded himself that he was in Vaughn’s mental health facility on his own accord, it was something that he needed to do. Otherwise, James told himself, he would go to prison. The longer he went without treatment, James’ mind continued, the lives of those around him, loved ones and strangers all included, would be in danger.
Vaughn stood in the doorway to the room, dressed up in his brown sienna colored suit, with dark brown leather dress shoes. His white shirt and red tie meshed with his tan but wrinkled face, which hid behind his long stringy black hair with patches of gray gliding through each strand. James could tell that his doctor had seen many things in his practice, dealt with hard ships that forced him to age faster than his actual years. James turned and locked eyes with Vaughn, who stood there with his left hand gripping his right wrist.
Vaughn: “What do you think?”
James cracked a grin as he surveyed the room once more before returning his gaze to Vaughn.
James: “It’s not a high dollar New York loft, but it will do. Besides, I am here for different reasons, so not staying in a Trump suite isn’t going to kill me.”
Vaughn chuckled. James knew he could trust Vaughn, as he lived up to the “good doctor” nickname James had bestowed upon Vaughn many years ago. Vaughn genuinely cared which set James’ mind no matter how broken it was, at ease.
Vaughn: “I am here to help you, James. I know I have stressed that many, many times. Probably more times than either of us can count, but it has always rang true. You are a top priority, James so you will get as much focus and as much attention that I can give you to make sure you receive the best treatment. I have no doubt in my mind that you want to be able to get back to the world so you can be around your daughters.”
James’ face twisted in a painful expression, which he tried to hide by smirking and forcing a grin. He missed his daughters. Kelly loved him and adored him. Kiera was frightened of him. The voice in his head wanted to remove them from the equation, feeling that they would hinder James, which turned out to be true. James’ love for his children always seemed to overcome the voice’s growing hatred.
James: “In a perfect world, I would be able to leave here, completely cured. I would be able to go to their mother’s apartment, where she’d open the door and smile at me. She would invite me in which I would accept of course. Once I got inside, I would hear the hallway become littered with heavy footsteps and giggles before being bombarded by my girls. They would tackle me and I would lean back on the floor, wrapping my arms around them and holding them as close as I possibly could. But this isn’t a perfect world.”
The words escaped James’ mouth before he turned away from Vaughn and he began to stare out of the window, staring out at the outside world that he was leaving behind in order to save others, in order to save himself. Vaughn looked down at the floor, crossing his arms and legs as he leaned into the door frame, letting out a deep breath which made James feel that the doctor knew he was in for nothing short of a challenge.
Vaughn: “No, James it definitely isn’t a perfect world. You are right about that.”
James shook his head, thinking about the detour through Hell that his life had taken over the last several months. He was in the finals of the SCW Shot of Adrenaline tournament at the beginning of the year. He took time off to deal with a death in the family. He returned as did the voices in his head, voices he thought he had buried long ago. The voices returned with a vengeance, the message from the main one was filled with fury and anger. It was a message that cost him friendships, his wrestling career, and worst of all, the trust of his children.
Vaughn: “But there isn’t a life out there that doesn’t go through some sort of hell. It can big or small, but hell nonetheless. Life is what you make it however. You have to take the good with the bad. It is not all bad and it is not all good, but it is life no matter what.”
James: “So far, most if not all of my life decisions have resulted in me taking a trip through a downward spiral. I self destruct, doc. I don’t know if I could handle doing anything else but that. Self destructing is my comfort zone. Most of the people I worked with were able to turn things around and become stronger human beings. I don’t know if I have that in me. Maybe I am just wired differently.”
Vaughn quickly chimed in.
Vaughn: “We are all wired differently. Those people you worked with…they had to go through hell in order to become stronger. Like I said the hell people go through can be big or small. Yours may have been bigger than theirs. But there is a way to get through that hell and make it out alive, James. You yourself just have to believe in that.”
Silence fell over them as Vaughn’s words resonated in his ears. He thought about Ace Marshall and how far he had come from his days of drugs, booze, and debauchery. He thought about the personal struggles Amy Chastaine to have gone through in her past. Their stories were different yet the end result was the same. They had both become stronger and changed for the better. James couldn’t help but envy that. Envying Ace Marshall brought a bad taste to his mouth, but deep down, James knew he’d be lying if he didn’t say he respected Ace for becoming a much better person.
James: “How do you believe in something you don’t know truly exists?”
Vaughn: “As the song goes, you have to have faith, James. You believe in something, otherwise you wouldn’t have come here to seek treatment.”
James: “How is my treatment supposed to go? I mean, we’ve tried talking it out. We’ve tried hypnosis and medication. Nothing has truly helped. I am not knocking you or your practice, but something hasn’t clicked with me. If I’m going to get help then something has got to give, man.”
Vaughn nodded, seeming to be in agreement.
Vaughn: “I have tried different methods, but as you said, things aren’t clicking. That doesn’t mean you are a lost cause my friend. Not in the slightest. So I figured I would ask you what you think would be the best course action when it comes to your treatment.”
James: “Isn’t that what you’re for?”
Vaughn chuckled a bit, while James stood before him, a slight sense of worry falling over him. He felt lost which is another reason to add to his list of reasons for coming to Vaughn for help. James told himself that he had tried medication, but no matter what, he would never feel like himself. He trusted Vaughn and tried hypnosis, but all that seemed to do was piss Abel off. Talking about it was getting him nowhere. James began to think coming to the facility was nothing more than a lost cause.
Vaughn: “I am here to help of course, but so far, my ideas haven’t really worked. You’ve said so yourself. Whether you think so or not, you know yourself better than anyone else. Think about something that you enjoy doing. It needs to be something that has always taken your mind off of whatever is troubling you. Or something that has helped your mind figure out things when just standing around dwelling on them hasn’t helped.”
James: “All I’ve had has been wrestling, doc. I would be angry and pissed off before I got to the ring. I would take that anger out on whoever was pitted against me and nine times out of ten, I would end up feeling better.”
Vaughn: “I understand that, James and if it comes down to it, maybe we can work out a deal where you can wrestle locally from time to time to see if that helps. But for now, I’d like to try something else. Something different. How about writing?”
James: “Writing? Like in a journal? Doc, I have tried that and I have tried that. I have spent a lot of money on composition notebooks which only end up getting buried beneath whatever garbage I have lying around. I write one or two entries tops before losing interest. I’d rather not waste my time keeping a journal.”
Vaughn shrugged this time.
Vaughn: “It doesn’t have to be a journal per se. It can be anything. It can be just you recording your thoughts. Or you could take it one step further and write something like a story for instance.”
Confusion fell over James’ face. He used to be creative but the older he has become, his imagination has dwindled down. Besides James told himself, my mind is too fucked up come up with a story.
James: “How would I create a story with all of the shit going on in my head? I mean, really? I don’t think that would help. If it was that easy then sure I would do it. I’d give it a shot.”
Vaughn: “Why don’t you give it a shot? Think about all that has happened with you over the last months. The dreams, the voices, all of it. Use the people you know as inspiration for characters. You could create a character based upon yourself or elements of someone that you’ve always admired. Have him confront the demons you’re not sure you can confront on your own.”
James: “You’re serious? Like I said, if it was that easy then I guess I could do it.”
Vaughn: “It could be that easy. Sure, I have no doubt it will be a little difficult to get things started but once you got into it, you may end up surprising yourself.”
James stood there, his eyes locked with Vaughn. Part of him felt the old man had gone crazy, that he was just reaching for whatever straws he could grasp due to the fact that there probably wasn’t anything he could really do to help James. The other part of him was nothing short of intrigued by the concept. He was creative when he was younger. His imagination ran rampant. Hell, James thought, it created Abel and that fact alone scared James. He was afraid of what else his mind could conjure up if given the chance.
But he trusted Vaughn. The doctor as he had said, had been there for him and did everything that he could to help James, to make sure he received the proper treatment.
James: “Alright, I will give it a shot. Do you have a pencil and some paper?”
Vaughn: “I will do you one better. I will bring you an old fashioned typewriter.”
James nodded as Vaughn smiled from ear to ear, before turning away as he headed towards the door. Once at the door, Vaughn turned around, optimism painted on his face as he addressed James once more.
Vaughn: “I do believe that this could help, or give us some sort of breakthrough. A breakthrough is definitely what we need right now, James.”
James couldn’t find the words to speak. He gave Vaughn a nod and a smile before Vaughn walked out of view. James stood there and looked around the room in all of its plainness. He never expected to see himself in such a place. James always expected to be “normal”. He saw himself as being the guy who made it out of a tough childhood before going onto college, earning a degree, getting a job in his chosen field. He saw himself as finding a woman who would fall in love with everything about him including his flaws and vice versa. But James snickered at the ideas of what he expected. Life doesn’t care what you plan for, he thought to himself. It doesn’t wait for you, his mind continued.
And then, he heard a voice that sent chills down his spine.
“You don’t really want to do this James.”
Upon hearing the voice, he knew instantly that it was Abel. James didn’t turn in the direction of Abel’s voice, wanting nothing to do with the monster. The monster he could have very well become. The monster he COULD still become. James closed his eyes, wishing Abel but he heard him laughing, telling James that he wasn’t going anywhere.
James: “You shouldn’t be here Abel.”
Abel hissed in his response.
Abel: “No! You’re the one who shouldn’t be here. I don’t know how many times we have to fucking go through this. You’re destiny is to give into the darkness.”
Before Abel could continue, James cut him off, slamming the ball of his fist into the wall, still avoiding making eye contact with Abel.
James: ‘I know what the darkness could and would do to me. You have shown me enough for me to know that I don’t want to go down that road. I don’t want anything to do with it. It has done nothing but cause me pain and grief. I don’t want to deal with that anymore. That is why I am here.”
Abel: “Oh James…Always whining. I have done nothing but offer you a gift, to live a life filled with tormenting the world that has tormented you. And it is a gift, James. You’re just hiding behind your comfort blanket, ignoring it, refusing to see it for what it truly is. That is the true reason you are here. That is why you have been running from me. You’re still a coward.”
James: “Refusing to seek help is a coward. This condition…it isn’t a gift. It is a sickness. You’re a fucking sickness and I am going to get rid of you. You call that cowardice. You can call it whining, but deep down, I know that you are full of shit. I know that I am better off without you and when I leave here…”
James drew in a deep breath then exhaled sharply as he turned around, now facing Abel who stood before him all dressed in black, his eyes glaring back at James as James continued.
James: “…There won’t be a trace of you left.”
November 9th, 2016
New York City, New York
It had been a week since James Evans’ arrival to the facility Doctor Vaughn oversaw, where he was the chief doctor and “head shrink” as some of the patients labeled him. Ever since James was a child, he was always Vaughn’s most challenging case to say the least. Even now, Vaughn thought to himself, not much has changed. It had been a week since Vaughn suggested he write a story in order to make a break with the predicament his mind seemed to be trapped in. Vaughn wasn’t sure if James had truly written anything, or James was truly on board with helping himself.
As a small boy, there always seemed to be more than two sides to James. He was a very complex child so to speak. One day he would be as happy as could be. Some days, he would be as quiet, almost lost in a daze. And then there were the times that James would arrive and it didn’t take a rocket scientist to see the anger boiling up in James, the rage building up in the boy’s veins, appearing to be ready to explode at any possible moment. It was rare for James to be sad. He was either showing happiness, anger, or just coming off numb to the world around him.
The boy heard voices the older he got, which resulted in the incident that cost the life of James’ childhood crush, Kismet. It took some time but James seemed to come to grips with what happened, with it being deemed an accident. James also seemed to be able to control the voices in his head. Vaughn remembered feeling anything but relief when he last saw James during his teenage years. Something told him that James would be back. That same feeling told Vaughn that James had learned to suppress his anger, as if his happiness or calmness appeared to be practiced.
Vaughn couldn’t help but be weary of James and his actions, though he knew it wasn’t right of him to feel such a way. He looked at all of his degrees and remembered the courses he took in school where he was taught to lose any sort of judgmental traits he had, so he could be more open minded to the situations his patients would be coming from. He removed his black framed glasses from his face lined with wrinkles brought upon from the situations he dealt with when treating his patients. He told himself that this was his chance to make a real change in James’ life, that he would stop at nothing to help him and to see him get better. Vaughn wanted to see James well once and for all. Vaughn reminded himself of the fact that it would be a struggle just as all of his other cases were struggles. But just as he was as a child, Vaughn told himself that working with James was going to be a challenge unlike any other.
A knock came at his door.
Vaughn: “Come in.”
The door opened and in stepped James Evans. James looked a little rugged and tired. Vaughn told him to take a seat which James did. James ran his hands over his face and yawned.
Vaughn: “Have you been sleeping, James?”
James: “About as well as I can I’d say. I’ve been up and down the last few nights.”
Vaughn leaned forward, placing his elbows on his desk, keeping his arms apart so it let James know that he was engaged in the conversation, fully interested in what James had to say.
James: “I’ve finally started writing. And you were right. It took me awhile to get started, but once I did, it is like I can’t stop. It is hard shutting my mind off. But then again, I’d say that is a good thing when I am not hearing voices.”
Vaughn: “Well that is good to hear. I am glad that you’re writing and we will touch on that here in a moment. So you say you’re not hearing voices now. Is that right?”
James shifted in his seat, never breaking eye contact with Vaughn. James hadn’t heard Abel’s voice in a few days which was nothing short of a relief for him. The writing may have been what he needed, James thought to himself. But he kept himself calm, knowing that he didn’t need to get ahead of himself.
James: “I haven’t heard from Abel in a few days.”
Vaughn: “What was it like when you’ve heard from Abel?”
James: “He’s angry that I’m here. He keeps telling me that I don’t need to be here, that I am running from him. He has called me a coward, telling me that I need to accept and give into the darkness inside of me. I have argued with him, telling him that if I were to do that then things would turn out a lot worse for me.”
Vaughn: “And what does he think?”
James: “He doesn’t agree of course. Being here is the worst thing for me. He showed me things, terrible things that I could never do. That pisses him off more than anything. I know that there is darkness inside of me and that scares me, it worries me. I have fought against it for a long time, which makes Abel anything but happy with me. He sees you as a threat. He sees me being here as me trying to get rid of him.”
Vaughn: “But you are trying to get rid of him, yes?”
James nodded, not hesitating in the slightest, which gave Vaughn a slight sense of ease, which he gladly accepted as he rarely felt at ease when it came to James Evans.
James: “Yes…yes I am. Listening to Abel, giving into Abel has cost me so much now and I know it would have costed me so much more had I not come here. I don’t want people to be afraid of me. I have to know that I am not wrong for telling myself that I am a good, for trying to convince myself as well as everyone else that I am a good man, a decent man. That I have a good heart.”
The words flowed out of James just like they flowed onto the paper. He looked away now from Vaughn and stared down at the floor. He knew that Abel was laughing his ass off at him right now. He knew Abel saw him as weak and pathetic, but James reminded himself that it took a lot for him to come here, that it showed that he is a lot stronger than he or Abel thought.
Vaughn: “Well, James you are a good man. You seem to be growing stronger each day. You’ve been here a week and it seems that you are walking down the right path. I feel that this writing is helping you but the most important question is how do you feel about it.”
James: “If it helps keep the voices at bay then I am on board with it. I will take what I can get.”
Vaughn chuckled as he nodded in approval.
Vaughn: “Well what is this story about?”
James shook his head.
James: “I can’t tell you that. I don’t want to ruin things.”
Vaughn: “Well can you tell me about the characters at least? I’d like to know a little something about it. Like who are the characters based off of?”
James: “I will tell you a little bit since you seem so interested, which I appreciate by the way.”
Vaughn: “Of course, of course.”
James smiled and stretched his arms out as he exhaled deeply. James looked away, feeling more vulnerable than usual. A feeling he didn’t really experience except when it was just he and Kennedy Street alone, when he was being his true self. It was something that he didn’t really do or show except with those he truly cared for and loved.
James: “Alright well first thing is first. The main character is based off of me to a certain degree. He is a guy with a family and an ex-wife who is loosely based off of the mother to my children, Katelyn and a former co-worker of mine named Amy. They are both truly special people who I mistreated badly. He also has a girlfriend that I based upon my ex-girlfriend, Kennedy. She and I were co-workers as well with the SCW. They are trying to make it over a rough patch. There is also a guy based upon Ace Marshall. He is the guy’s best friend, but they have a shaky relationship due to the best friend being a little unreliable and too self absorbed. And then…”
James stopped talking, looking a little hesitant and afraid to continue.
Vaughn: “It’s alright, James. There is nothing to worry about. It is just you and I here.”
James: “There is a villain involved. I based the villain off of Abel, off of the darkness inside of me. I guess you could say that I am trying to exorcise my demons.”
Vaughn: “There is nothing wrong with that. Can you tell me something else?”
James: “It depends on the question, doc.”
Vaughn and James shared a smile, adding to the sense of ease Vaughn was experiencing.
Vaughn: “Is this story going to have a happy ending?”
James didn’t answer at first. He took time to think about the question. He hadn’t really experienced any happy endings in his life though he knew they existed, even if they were indeed a rarity. Ace was happy as well as Katelyn. Amy got her happy ending, making him tap out and overcoming Abel. Kennedy was going to happy, James thought. She wasn’t the type of person to stay down for long. This made James question what sort of person he was. He then looked up and locked eyes with Vaughn.
James: “I don’t know yet but I hope that it does. I would like for it to that’s for sure.”
After he finished speaking, James drew in another deep breath, doing all that he could to remain calm. He felt way more emotional which was truly new to him. He always found it funny that it was small things that caused him to be emotional. Things he never really expected. Things like Vaughn’s question, or just seeing his daughters smile, or even the puppy he found earlier in the year buried in a trash can. James exhaled, feeling a little more at ease with himself and the current situation.
Vaughn: “I have no doubt things will end well for your characters. The same goes for you, James. I hope you know that.”
James: “I hope so, doc. I really do. But it is hard not to doubt things some times. I am not sure if you have doubts a lot but I know that I do. A lot more than I wish I did.”
Vaughn: “Oh trust me, I have doubts. Everyone has doubts. Some more than others, but doubt is still there. And I can understand why you’d doubt things. You haven’t had the best success when it comes to treatment. Dissociative personality disorder is a hard ordeal to overcome but, James you’ve only been here a week. I know I said people show progress and it all depends on them, but like I said, you’ve been here a week and you are already showing some progress. You may be out of here before you know it, but don’t that to heart. I have also seen people relapse so to speak. It is all a matter of time James and time is on your side.”
James listened to Vaughn’s words, letting them resonate. He pictured himself leaving and going to see Kelly and Kiera. Just seeing them in his mind made him smile. He told himself that they are motivation to get better. Keep telling yourself that, no matter how many times you have to repeat it.
James: “Is there something that I could ask of you?”
Vaughn nodded his head.
Vaughn: “Of course James. I will help you any way that I can. Its what I am here for. So what is it?”
James: “Would I be able to call my daughters?”
Vaughn: “I am sure that can be arranged, but I have to ask. Do you think that you are ready to talk to them after only being here a short period of time? I know you are already showing signs of progress as I said, but you have to feel that you yourself are ready to take a step such as that. The only reason I say that is because actually talking to someone on the outside world could trigger something and set you back.”
James didn’t take much time to consider it. He was strong. He had to show himself that he was.
James: “I have to try.”
Vaughn nodded, trying not to show his hesitance.
Vaughn: “Then I will see what I can do. Does that sound fair?”